In a past insert, to remind the reader; I had a dilemma. I had an original window on my 1840 Greek Revival home that was in the attic, a hideous "modern" window in my loft area that was literally disintegrating, a modern greenhouse window in my kitchen that let the cold air in and was also disintegrating as well as frying any plants that were unlucky enought to be stuck there.
To resolve the dilemma, I called the Window Woman in Topsfield (see the Newburyport Preservation Craftsman Directory under "windows") to come and provide an estimate of replacing the modern windows and restoring the windows. She came and recommended that a quick visit to a local glass repair place would be in order and that would be enough since the muttons were in good condition. She would provide a price for a replacement window for the loft (Thank heavens – since water was seaping into the house) and she recommended a preservation carpenter for the kitchen window and any other work we may wish him to bid.
Well, with that encouraging visit, I went to the attic to remove the old window.
I unscrewed some fasteners that had crudely been inserted and yanked out some large nails that held the window in place. I removed the thin strapping that held it in place. It didn’t budge. Then I realized my mistake. The window was smaller than I expected and the outer frame enclosed insulation stuffed to make up the difference. I removed the pink material and found to my horror the window was smaller by 3/4" from the frame. As old as this window was (It had antique blown glass) this window was not original to the opening. Finally, the window popped out and I found my second horror. The muttons so well defined internally were largely gone on the exterior-facing.
With a growing discouragement, I took the window to B&R. Even though this company just received a glowing editorial in the Daily News recently, I have always had an unsettling feeling about the help there. Whenever I try to bring in a window to be restored, I often get an expression of "Why bother" and glances of "Disgust" I usually get that kind of attitude from Dark Side architects, carpenters and contractors who care nothing about preservation and everything about the quickest job for the maximum profit regardless of any benefit for the customer. There are far too many in our area who prey upon unsuspecting owners of historic homes!
But I held my peace and got a very informative speech from the help there. First, they, being glass experts, criticized the specks of paint and paint smears that the exterior painter had left on the window. It was explained that glass is actually a slow-moving liquid and that paint over a long period of time etches into the surface. They tested it with glass cleaner and razor blades and found the paint was very recent and easily removed. The sloppy painter was standing before them!
Then they explained that it was going to be very labor intensive to remove the old glazing and preserve the original glass. I wanted it preserved because it was the last window in the home that was original to the building – attice window or no. They just wanted to warn me it would cost.
Then they explained that they could create a false mutton by very carefully crafting the glazing into the shape of the original mutton. (Some were left to model after.)
I gave them the go ahead. They of course could not guarantee the saving of the historic glass but they said they had a vendor that did old glass plus they keep an inventory of original old glass for just this sort of emergency.
I think it was very good of them to stress the costliness of restoring. Sometimes, there is no "inexpensive way" unless I do it. If I was so foolish, I can picture myself cracking the old glass in no time!
I asked them about the BIG question, "How do I get a window too small for the opening to fit snuggly? They said they did not do woodworking but told me that a strip of wood added to the exterior would do nicely and to make sure 1/16" was allowed for clearance. They showed me the top of my window where someone else had added an extra strip and they explained this was a common practise that I could do myself cheaply. As soon as I get the window back from B&R, I will pick up some custom strips from Eastern Lumber in Amesbury.
Stay tuned for more of my "experience".